#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos – November 3, 2020 — “Beaches did not cancel the mediation,” informed Beaches Resort in a statement issued to Magnetic Media just moments ago. This latest media comment comes about 24 hours after local newspaper, TCI Sun published that Sharlene Robinson, Turks and Caicos Premier and Finance Minister said the resort cancelled the November 18, 2020 mediation meeting.
Beaches has countered that it remains ready to negotiate in the near five-year old tax dispute.
“Beaches has always been and remains ready, willing and able to resolve this matter in a fair, equitable and transparent manner. The tax matters and the breaches of Beaches Development Agreement, can be resolved in a day or two. This can be achieved only if there is a strong commitment, sincerity, good faith and capable decision makers sitting down together. Our team continues to stand ready.”
The volley of highly charged comments in the multi-million dollar row has played out in the public domain and has polorised people on the matter.
Beaches Resort wants the mediation to begin now and suggests the process can be concluded before November 18. November 18 is the day the resort, which employs nearly 2,000 people and which accounts for 70 percent of the country’s long stay visitors has set as its reopening amidst the coronavirus pandemic. November 18 is also the day the TCI Government has said it would meet with the mediator in the Beaches Resort legal matter.
Now, the resort is calling on the TCI government to show the public a set of confidential communication.
“…since the TCIG now seems to have no issues speaking to the press, then it should let the people of the TCI and Beaches employees know the truth about the mediation. Let’s have full disclosure. We call on the TCIG to publish the letter dated October 29, 2020 which was sent to Beaches and which TCIG wished to be treated as confidential, and to then also publish Beaches’ response. Beaches consents to the publication of its letter. Let the citizens decide for themselves.
Let the people of the TCI know about Freedom of the Press unless TCIG wishes to take away their constitutional right.”
A second-time-around headline by the Turks and Caicos Weekly News ignited a firestorm of demands and comments. A $76 million dollar possible tax write off made the news in 2019 when legislation and an amnesty related to the Hotel & Tourism Tax Ordinance was being debated.
At that time, there was admission that the monies had accumulated as a result of government penalty charges. House of Assembly members including three former finance ministers, namely: Washington Misick, Royal Robinson and Derek Taylor supported ‘writing-off’ the accrued penalties.
Beaches Turks and Caicos, the family all-inclusive brand owned by Sandals Resorts International explains, they were unaware of this news focus in2019,which again made news headlines over the weekend.
“Beaches also wishes to make it clear that is has never received a copy of any audit report and the first time Beaches knew of an alleged $76M tax write off was in the press.”
There was also this caution from Sandals Resorts executives, as this issue has become prime material as the Turks and Caicos inches closer to a general election.
“Let us however be very clear. Beaches will not allow its brand to be used for political propaganda or as a political football. Beaches has no interest in playing politics. Our concern is for our team members and the citizens of the TCI.”
UPDATED & CORRECTED: The Attorney General, RhondaLee Braithwaite-Knowles informs late today she is in Turks and Caicos; though her automatic e-mail reply had previously informed that she was out of office, not necessarily out of the country, until November 9. Earlier we reported that the AG was out of the country.
Magnetic Media, was in response to our questions about the mediation meeting, redirected by AG Braithwaite-Knowles to the Office of the Premier.